This Sunday we’re celebrating the fifth Sunday of Easter. We’re also celebrating Saturday’s (May 1st) Feast Day: The Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles. Since we are Holy Apostles, I thought it would be good to honor a couple of our patron saints. So, here I thought I would pass along a bit of information about these apostles. This comes from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (2018), the Episcopal Church’s resource about feast days.
The two apostles commemorated on this day are among those about whom little is known, except for their mention in the Gospels. James the Less is so called to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee and from James “the brother of the Lord,” or perhaps to indicate youth or lack of stature. He is known to us from the list of the Twelve, where he is called James the son of Alpheus. He may also be the person referred to in Mark’s Gospel as James the younger, who, with his mother Mary and the other women, watched the crucifixion from a distance.
Philip figures in several important incidents in Jesus’ ministry as reported in John’s Gospel. There we read that Jesus called Philip soon after calling Andrew and Peter. Philip, in turn, found his friend Nathanael, and convinced him to come and see Jesus, the Messiah. Later, when Jesus saw the hungry crowd, he asked Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip’s practical response, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little” (John 6:7), was the prelude to the feeding of the multitude with the loaves and fishes. In a later incident in John’s Gospel, some Greeks came to Philip asking to see Jesus. At the Last Supper, Philip’s request, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied,” evokes the response, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8,9).